|The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky|
No. 14, Part II, 19 January 1996
************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. This week's edition includes stories on the fall of retail trade and the standard of living in Russia and how price hikes in Montenegro have caused the closure of its border with Albania. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org Also: Exchange rates for 27 currencies from throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are now updated weekly on the OMRI WWW server: http://www.omri.cz/Econ/ExchangeRates.html *********************************************************************** This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ HOLBROOKE WARNS "NO MODIFICATIONS" TO DAYTON AGREEMENT. U. S. envoy Richard Holbrooke returned to the former Yugoslavia on 18 January for separate meetings with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Serbian counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic. The BBC said the next day that Holbrooke's main aim was to urge Izetbegovic to make sure that the prisoner exchange is carried out as scheduled. Oslobodjenje the next day quoted Holbrooke as saying there will be "no modifications" to the Dayton treaty. The Bosnian government has been linking the prisoner exchanges to accounting for the fate of missing persons, which representatives of the international community say is not compatible with the Dayton text. Meanwhile, Carl Bildt told TV Pale on 18 January that Sarajevo's Serbs should stay on. He pointed out that a multiethnic society was possible before the war and that "what was possible in the past should be possible in the future." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN NATIONALIST PARTY MEDIATES IN BLACK SEA KIDNAPPING CRISIS. The Ukrainian extreme nationalist party UNA-UNSO is negotiating with the Chechen military to help secure the release of Ukrainian hostages aboard the Eurasia. UNIAN reported on 18 January. Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko confirmed that the terrorists were willing to allow UNA-UNSO to mediate in negotiations on Ukrainian hostages. UNA-UNSO has been highly supportive of Dzhoker Dudayev in his campaign against Russia. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Following meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kuchma said problems over the division of the Black Sea Fleet have been more or less solved and the fleet will be given the status of Russia's fleet stationed on Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian Radio reported on 17 January. ITAR-TASS the next day reported that Kuchma said he opposes any "revolutionary enlargement of NATO." He also stressed that the recent increase in tariffs on Russian oil transports through Ukrainian pipelines was not a political matter but strictly an economic one. Finally, the president announced that Yeltsin will come to Ukraine in the second half of March to sign the Russian-Ukrainian treaty on friendship and cooperation. -- Ustina Markus DRAFT UKRAINIAN BUDGET SLASHES SPENDING ON EDUCATION, RESEARCH. Ukrainian lawmakers are debating provisions in the 1996 draft budget for deep cuts in spending on education, scientific research, health, and social welfare programs, Ukrainian Radio reported 17 January. The current draft slashes expenditures on research from 1.7% to 0.076% of GDP and from 10% to 6.5% of GDP on education. The allocation for the country's school system would not be sufficient to cover teachers' wages and student stipends. The Ukrainian government still owes trillions of karbovantsi in back wages and stipends since autumn. The draft budget also foresees a 4% cut in social spending and would finance only 31% of the basic needs of Ukraine's state-run health care system. The government has said the cuts are necessary in order to lower the budget deficit to 6% of GDP this year. -- Chrystyna Lapychak IMF WITHHOLDS FOURTH TRANCHE OF STAND-BY LOAN FROM UKRAINE. The release of the fourth tranche of the IMF's stand-by credit to Ukraine has been delayed until February or March, Ukrainian radio reported on 17 January. The credit should have been released in January, but the IMF and World Bank have said that Ukraine is not making enough progress in its structural economic reforms or in privatization. -- Ustina Markus CAUCUSES IN NEW BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT. The largest caucus in the Belarusian parliament is the Accord caucus (59 deputies), Belarusian Radio reported on 17 January. It is followed by the Agrarian caucus (47) and the Communist caucus (44). Two smallest caucuses are the Social- Democrats (15) and the Civic Action caucus (18). Five deputies have not aligned themselves with any group. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC PRESIDENTS IN GERMANY. Presidents Lennart Meri of Estonia, Guntis Ulmanis of Latvia, and Algirdas Brazauskas of Lithuania on 18 January in Kiel addressed a symposium on the integration of the Baltic Sea region with the rest of Europe, Baltic media reported. They also met with their German counterpart, Roman Herzog, and Prime Minister of Schleswig- Holstein Heide Simonis. -- Saulius Girnius VISA FREE TRAVEL TO FINLAND FOR ESTONIANS. Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen told Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 18 January in Tallinn that visa-free travel between the two countries would begin next year if Estonia fulfilled some technical conditions, ETA reported. Vahi confirmed that Estonia would introduce passports with security codes in March and improve technology for border controls. Lipponen reaffirmed his country's support for the Baltic States' EU membership as a way to increase their security. Vahi noted that there are Finnish investments in 6,000 companies in Estonia and that Estonia did not intend to place any limitations on the free movement of goods this year. -- Saulius Girnius PRESSURE ON LITHUANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES. Adolfas Slezevicius told a press conference on 18 January that his adviser Juozas Palionis withdrew money from his account in the Joint-Stock Innovation Bank on 18 December without his written authorization, Radio Lithuania reported. He said he thought that this information was sufficient to stop the filing of criminal charges against him. Slezevicius also refused to comment on efforts to fire Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas. President Algirdas Brazauskas asked Vaitekunas to resign, but the ruling Democratic Labor Party faction wanted him to remain in office. Sixty-five members of the opposition sent an open letter to Brazauskas that day supporting his position on the minister. His future is unclear, since 71 votes in the parliament are needed to oust him, -- Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO BRUSSELS. Aleksander Kwasniewski, following his visit to NATO headquarters, spoke to the EU commission on 18 January. He said that Poland hopes to open negotiations next year for membership in the EU and to join by the end of the century. "Poland has already met a great majority of the criteria for membership in the union," Kwasniewski said. He also met with Belgian King Albert and Premier Jean-Luc Dehaene, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski DECISION ON INVESTIGATION INTO OLEKSY AFFAIR TO BE TAKEN NEXT WEEK. Col. Andrzej Komarnicki, head of Warsaw's military prosecutor's office, on 18 January said the prosecutors will decide next week whether to launch a formal investigation into espionage allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Polish dailies reported the next day. Oleksy has hinted he may stand down if the prosecutors decided evidence offered by the security service was sound enough to warrant an investigation. President Kwasniewski, following his returning from Brussels on 18 January, said parliamentary elections may be needed to resolve the political crisis over the allegations. He said that only the parliament can decide if elections should be held before 1997. -- Jakub Karpinski KINKEL ADMITS CZECH-GERMAN TALKS BOGGED DOWN. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on 18 January that talks aimed at Czech-German reconciliation are "disastrously bogged down," Reuters reported. Following the failure of Kinkel and his Czech counterpart, Josef Zieleniec, to draft a joint declaration on bilateral relations, the Czech foreign minister said Germany was raising new demands (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 and 17 January 1996). Kinkel said in another interview he has to represent Sudeten German interests in the negotiations, and he again called on Prague to distance itself "morally" from the so-called Benes decrees, under which ethnic Germans were expelled from postwar Czechoslovakia. Zieleniec declined to comment on Kinkel's latest statements, Czech dailies reported on 19 January. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAKIA WILL NOT ASK AUSTRIA TO EXTRADITE PRESIDENT'S SON. Slovak Prosecutor General Michal Valo told CTK on 18 January that he will not ask for the extradition of Michal Kovac Jr, who was kidnapped in August, dumped in Vienna, and jailed there on fraud charges. Explaining that extradition can be requested only if a Slovak court issues a warrant, Valo said that "neither the investigator nor the prosecutor sees a reason to imprison Kovac Jr." Valo denied speculation that two investigators were taken off the case because they suspected the Slovak Information Service was involved. In other news, SIS director Ivan Lexa on 18 January filed charges against Sme editor Peter Toth over an interview with former Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner published the previous day. Pittner had answered questions concerning SIS operations and leadership. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON LANGUAGE LAW. Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko on 18 January said that if the implementation of the state language law leads to any infringements of minority rights, Michal Kovac will ask the Constitutional Court to decide whether the law is constitutional. The statement was made after a meeting between Kovac and representatives of ethnic Hungarian parties. Discussions focused on the language law, prospects for ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, and a territorial arrangement bill, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher ROMANI SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES HUNGARIAN MINORITIES LAW. Farkas Florian, chairman of the nationwide Romani self-government in Hungary, has sharply criticized the Law on Minorities, CTK and MTI reported on 17 January. Florian said the law does not allow the direct election of minority representatives to the parliament, and he expressed surprise that the Council of Europe has praised the law as a model for all Europe. According to Farkas, CE Deputy Secretary-General Peter Leuprecht has said Roma could be represented in the Council as an ethnic nationality if they formed a legitimate all-European organization. -- Alaina Lemon SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MORE MASS GRAVES IN BOSNIA. Bosnian TV on 18 January reported that new mass graves have been found near Sanski Most and Vozuca. The victims appear to have been Muslims killed by the Serbs since 1992, but the exact number is unclear and there has been no independent confirmation of the reports, AFP noted. Also in Vozuca in central Bosnia, refugees from Srebrenica have staged a protest about their food and living conditions, Oslobodjenje wrote on 19 January. The Sarajevo daily also said that the governing Party of Democratic Action (SDA) has launched preparations for Muslims to vote in this year's elections in areas from which they were "ethnically cleansed." SDA spokesmen said that some 380 Muslim families were ready to return to Srebrenica. -- Patrick Moore BRITISH TROOPS SEAL OFF MUJAHIDIN. Following an armed incident with Canadian soldiers on 18 January, 100 British IFOR troops with armored personnel carriers set up an "overwatch" on 100 foreign mujahidin fighters in a school near Bihac. The men should have left Bosnia earlier in the week in keeping with the terms of the Dayton agreement on the evacuation of foreign soldiers. Their departure has been held up because of problems with the Croatian authorities in determining transit arrangements. The muhajidin, one of the more controversial elements in the conflict, have included native Bosnian Muslims in addition to foreigners. Such Bosnians, as well as foreigners who have acquired Bosnian citizenship, have the right to stay but the Bosnian government is responsible for controlling them. IFOR has tried to play down the idea that muhajidin could be a potential problem. -- Patrick Moore CROATIA LIFTS LIMITS ON RETURN OF SERBIAN REFUGEES. The Sabor voted on 17 January to change an earlier decision that required Serbs who fled Croatia last year to reclaim their property within a three-month limit. The new measure says that the issue will be regulated by a future agreement between Zagreb and Belgrade, Nasa Borba reported on 19 January. The paper also noted that representatives of the Croats in Vojvodina point out that rump Yugoslavia has yet to clarify the status of its Croatian population. -- Patrick Moore PROGRESS IN OSCE TALKS ON CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES. Istvan Gyarmati, the OSCE official chairing talks on confidence-building measures, on 18 January said the Muslim-Croatian federation and the Bosnian Serbs have exchanged lists of weapons and arms sites, Reuters reported. The Bosnian Serbs had failed to provide the list earlier in the week, citing "technical reasons." Meanwhile, Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia, said in Vienna on 18 January that registering Bosnian voters is a "staggering problem," international media reported. The task is complicated by the numbers of refugees, estimated at 2 million, and the "hundreds and thousands of displaced people." -- Michael Mihalka SERBIAN RADICALS ON PROPOSED AMNESTY. Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Seselj on 18 January said his party will "not run away from discussions" about the issue of granting an amnesty to individuals who evaded serving in the wars throughout former Yugoslavia. But he noted that the SRS will oppose legislation that offers only a "partial" amnesty, noting that any serious proposal should include a pardon for "even those who stole something just to be able to feed their children." Seselj also claimed that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had been pressured by the international community to support an amnesty for draft evaders. -- Stan Markotich MORE MONTENGRIN AID TO HERZEGOVINIAN SERBS. Montena-fax on 17 January reported that Montenegro's aid efforts to Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina continued that day with the arrival in Trebinje of some 250 tons of food products. The Montenegrin government launched the aid program earlier this month. Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic was in Nevesinje on 13 January to witness the arrival of a humanitarian aid shipment to the Herzegovinian town. Of the 20,000 people living there, half are Serbian refugees. -- Stan Markotich NEW DETAILS ABOUT ATTEMPT ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S LIFE. The Macedonian Interior Ministry on 18 January revealed new details about the attempt on the life of Kiro Gligorov in October 1995, Nova Makedonija reported. The force of the explosives used in the attack was much greater than initially estimated, and some 4.5-7 kg were used laced with small metal parts. A ministry spokesman said the Citroen Ami used as a car bomb was driven by a woman and was coincidentally photographed by a German tourist the previous day. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER BLASTS OSCE OFFICIAL. Gheorghe Funar, leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity, on 18 January sharply criticized OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, who is currently in Romania to discuss concerns about ethnic minorities, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. Funar described Van der Stoel as "a ghost walking freely in Bucharest, scaring the citizens." He called on the Romanian government to declare him persona non grata. The OSCE official has met with President Ion Iliescu, other Romanian officials, and leaders of the country's large Hungarian minority. -- Dan Ionescu DNIESTER CONSTITUTION PROMULGATED. Igor Smirnov, president of the self- proclaimed Dniester republic, on 17 January signed the region's new constitution, Infotag reported. The constitution, adopted by referendum on 24 December, proclaims the Dniester region a sovereign and independent state. Also on 17 January, the newly elected Supreme Soviet held its inaugural session in Tiraspol. The deputies re-elected Grigorii Marakutsa as parliamentary chairman by a vote of 49 to 14. Marakutsa is regarded as a relatively moderate leader who is prepared to continue the dialogue with the Moldovan authorities. Vasilii Yakovlev--leader of the Bloc of Patriotic Left-Wing Forces, which that opposes any rapprochement with Chisinau--received only six votes. According to BASA-press, Smirnov the same day dismissed Yakovlev as rector of Tiraspol University. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT? 24 chasa on 19 January reports that Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov will most likely be nominated presidential candidate at the SDS National Conference in March. He is likely to run against incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and an as-yet unnamed candidate from the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The most likely candidates are Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Zhelev is trying to secure support from all opposition forces including the SDS, but many high-ranking SDS members have made it clear that the union will not support him. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN JUDGES TO RECEIVE POLICE PROTECTION. All Albanian chief justices are to receive police protection following attacks on judges throughout the country, international agencies and the daily Albania reported on 18 January. Some 45 judges will receive bodyguards following a bomb attack on the home of the Kukes district court chief judge on 17 January and an attack earlier this month on the chief of the Tirana district court (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 January 1995). No one was injured in either attack. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN-MACEDONIAN COMMISSION DISCUSSES BORDER REGULATIONS. Albanian and Macedonian officials held talks in Pogradec on easing border traffic, Koha Jone reports on 19 January. Both sides presented and discussed draft agreements on visa requirements; in particular, they focused on visa fees and the abolition of visas for diplomats. Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi is expected to visit Macedonia soon. -- Fabian Schmidt NEW GREEK PREMIER ELECTED. The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 18 January chose former Industry Minister Kostas Simis to head the next Greek government, Greek Radio reported. In the second round of voting, Simitis received 86 out of 167 votes and Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos 75. Six deputies cast blank ballots. Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, who had been expected to advance to the second round, came third in the first round. Following his election, Simitis promised continuity but also stressed "the need for new ideas and a change in the way of governing." President Kostis Stephanopoulos has mandated Simitis to form a new government, which is expected to be sworn in on 22 January. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write email@example.com for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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